Last Sunday I ran the Rogue 30k road race, my first race of that distance. While it went okay, it wasn't quite as good as I was hoping. Since I'm shooting for about a 3:30 marathon (8 minute pace) in March, I wanted to do an 8-minute pace at this race, maybe even pick it up at the end. It started out well enough, but the warm, humid day and the tendinitis I've been plagued with forced me to slow down. I finished with a time of 2:41:42, averaging an 8:40 pace, which put me 15th in my age group and 153rd overall. That should give me some room to improve next time, and give me some lessons for the marathon.
The pacers for the upcoming Austin Marathon were all out at this race, doing their own training. I lined up with the 3:30 (marathon time) pacers, with a plan of sticking with them most of the race. They were going a little quick, about 7:50 pace by my watch. On a good day that shouldn't have been a problem, but I felt like I was struggling to keep up from the first mile. I stuck with the pace group through the first 10 kilometers, then slowed down. While there was a pretty fair-sized crowd with the 3:30 pacers, at mile 6, ten feet behind them, there was nobody. It felt kind of lonely the next few miles, there were only a few other runners around once the 3:30 group got away from me. It was around mile 12, doing the loop around Lakeline Mall, that the 3:35 pacers caught me. They only had a couple people with them at that point. I crossed the 20 kilometer mark with them, but fell off when I walked through the next water stop. At that point I figured the first 20k had gone well enough, I didn't care too much how I finished, just as long as I beat the 4-hour pacers. A few miles later, the 3:40 pacers passed me by. They didn't have any other runners with them at that point. I wish I could have run with them for at least a little while, because one of them was local professional athlete Desiree Ficker, but just didn't have the legs that far into the race. Even the 3:45 pacers, with a group of runners in tow, didn't really motivate me to go any faster. What did help was that while I was walking one stretch, a friend Matt passed and gave me sort of a "come on, keep it moving" hand gesture. I started jogging again and caught up to him. He didn't seem to be having the best of times, about 17 miles in, and wasn't looking to chat. My jogging pace was slow, but he was going a little slower still. I went on ahead of him, but never got too far. I had another walking spell or two before the finish, but it was good Matt was there to keep me honest. Any time I saw him getting close again, I would start jogging again. In the end, he finished about a minute behind me.
The weather was not good running weather (unlike 3M, which was perfect). It was about 60 degrees and very humid. I'm not sure at what point I realized my clothes were soaked through with sweat, but it was before halfway. It was bad enough that when I took a walk break at mile 14, I took my shirt off to wring it out a little. Several times I tried to wring a little sweat out of my shorts, but that was even less successful.
This race had water/sports drink stations every two miles, while most races have them every mile. This was good and bad for me: Good because I have a tendency to slow down for every station, and walk through later ones; Bad because it was so hot and I was sweating furiously. At the later stops, when I was going slower in general, and walking the stations, I took at least two cups.
I think the hardest part of the course was around mile 9. There was a long uphill section, which was into the wind. This was also when I was basically on my own, so it was extra difficult. There were a few spectators along the road, but it was still just grueling. The section around the mall might have been my favorite, because they had a turn-around, and had you come back for a second loop. It gave a chance to see some much faster runners on the first pass, and then to see the slower folks on the second pass. It was sort of like "wow, I wish I could run that fast," to "I'm glad I'm not that slow."
One of the other things I liked about this race is that it was relatively small, unlike 3M or the Austin Marathon. I would definitely do it again, and hopefully the weather's better next time.